Obituary: Leota ‘Tillie’ Gingery
November 10, 2008
Lifelong local resident, Leota “Tillie” Gingery, passed away peacefully Nov. 5 at Kremmling Memorial Hospital.
Tillie was born Oct. 2, 1914 on the Sheephorn on Gore Pass to Paul and Vernie Heeney. She was the oldest of six children, with five brothers following her.
Tillie married Edward Gingery Nov. 25, 1935 on the Noonen place, south of Kremmling. They lived on the Blue River and in Hot Sulphur Springs. In 1947, they moved to Rangely where Ed worked for Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company. They moved back to Granby in 1953 where she has lived ever since.
Stories abound of Tillie’s past recapturing the history of Grand County in its finest days. During her early days of motherhood, Tillie would be seen during the summer driving sheep from Heeney over Vail Pass to graze on what is now I-70 – walking both ways with her two small boys (Skeeter and Allen) in tow perched upon one of the ranch horses. As she explained so many times, “there weren’t any babysitters in those days”.
From riding horses more then 10 miles a day just to get to school, to raising her five brothers when her mother died at an early age, to cooking as a young girl for huge hay crews every summer, to riding as a jockey to earn extra money – Tillie was no stranger to work and doing whatever it took to make ends meet. She put herself through high school by cleaning rooms at the Eastin Hotel in Kremmling and waiting tables. Her work ethic earned her the name of Tillie after “Tillie the Toiler,” a comic strip character in those days.
People across the country came to know and love Tillie from meeting her during the more than 30 years she waitressed in our valley. She worked at numerous
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restaurants, among them Moesle’s, Payne’s Cafe and Dougal’s Mountain Inn in Grand Lake where a dining room was named after her called the “Miss Tillie Room”.
People drove from miles around and often waited for hours just so they could sit at one of her tables to be waited on by her. She always “told it like it was” and if you didn’t want to know the truth about something – then you shouldn’t ask her.
Golf, dancing and bridge were Tillie’s passions whenever she wasn’t working. She was an avid member of the Happy Hackers golf club and played in numerous bridge clubs wherever and whenever she could find a game going.
In past years, Tillie was awarded Pioneer of the Year by both the town of Granby and the Middle Park County Fair. Additionally, she was selected to ride in county parades as an honored guest year after year.
Because she loved to share her passion for life and the history of Grand County it gave her a remarkable opportunity to write a memoir titled, “Tillie Remembers … 90 Years in the Mountain West”. This incredible collection of stories is in its third and final printing and has been enjoyed by hundreds of people who knew her and many who wanted to know her.
She is survived by her son Skeeter, Centennial; daughter-in-law Kathy, Tabernash; grandsons Brett, Tabernash; Derek, Fargo, N.D.; Dane, Crescent City, Calif.; brother Leonard (Nelle) Vernal, Utah; Dan, Fremont, Calif.; Pat, Walden; Jim (Merrilynn), Kremmling; Gary (Ellen), Denver; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She is preceded in death by her husband Ed; son Allen; daughter-in-law Jody; granddaughter Ashley; and brothers Glenn, Tom and Hugh.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Nov. 14, at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Eternal Hills in Tabernash where Tillie has been a lifelong member. Please join us in celebrating her life and sharing memories of her. A luncheon will follow in the Fellowship Hall at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Shining Stars Foundation (supporting children with cancer and other life threatening diseases), Box 730, Tabernash, CO 80478 or online at